The economic effects of COVID-19 have dominated the attention of all governments and international bodies throughout 2020. In relation to African countries, opinion shapers, experts, and journalists have focused on phrases such as debt crisis, debt diplomacy, debt forgiveness and debt relief. African leaders are calling for debt cancellation and debt moratoriums. Countries with alleged “debt problems” are being downgraded by ratings agencies.
Africa Unconstrained: Perspectives on the Continent’s New Era challenges current narratives on the economic future of African countries. Beginning with The African Debt Guide and the first installment of a video series, it uses in-depth analysis, webinars, interviews with global experts and original research to bring out the key economic challenges – and their solutions – for African countries and their partners. Economic analysis of African countries often groups the entire continent together and uses ‘Africa’ as a broad generalisation. The African Debt Guide provides an avenue for all readers – non-technical readers included – to understand the debt situation of individual African countries.
Through original qualitative analysis of the debt position of 20 African countries, The African Debt Guide shifts the focus from debt volumes to debt quality. It uses a combination of time series data and forecasts, to explore debt levels, economic diversification, resource mobilization and reliance on Chinese loans.
A compressed (low-res) version of the English file is also available to download here.
It is questions around debt that have brought Africa’s engagement with China into the limelight. A shift in how the debt system works is urgent, and China has to be part of this shift. Africa Unconstrained: Perspectives on the Continent’s New Era is launched alongside a video series featuring key African thought-leaders. It seeks to answer some of the trickiest questions relating to African economics, and the relationship between African countries and China.
Our first video features Professor Carlos Lopes, and a conversation focused around three questions. We start first by asking: “if there was one number you think every African should be aware of with regards to Africa’s economies in a post-COVID19 context what would it be and why?”, followed by a conversation on African perspectives on debt and concluding with reflections on the Africa-China relationship. Despite the narrative of debt distress that African countries are often constrained by Professor Lopes reminds us that “Africa borrows the least in the world”.
This is just the beginning of the Africa Unconstrained conversation, throughout 2021 we look forward to continuing this conversation through a working paper, blueprint and a series of webinars, all of which will be featured on our new website: www.africaunconstrained.com. Visit us there to explore the data, videos and reports in more depth.
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